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Some of you, after reading a few articles on BahaiTeachings.org, might think, “Sounds interesting. Maybe I should check this out. But how do I connect with the local Baha’i community? What does it have to offer?”
Baha’i communities currently offer “core activities” (devotionals, study circles, children’s classes, junior youth “empowerment” activities) to anyone who would like to participate.
As you can see, there are Baha’i activities for the entire family, from children and youth to adults.
Baha’is have “study circles” as well. These small groups read and discuss a series of short booklets to acquaint folks, like you, with useful Baha’i information. What will you learn about? Answer: Just the basics of the Baha’i Faith, such as:
Understanding the Baha’i Writings
• Why should we read and reflect upon the sacred writings?
• How do the sacred Writings affect our soul and mind?
• What is prayer?
• Why should we pray?
• What attitudes of heart and mind are necessary for prayer?
• What are the benefits of prayer?
Life and Death
• What is the purpose of life?
• What is the nature of the soul?
• What is the condition of the soul after death?
• What is the appropriate attitude towards the present condition of our lives?
No pressure. No commitment necessary. Go once. Go many times, if you like.
Have children? Want them to have a moral education, which includes the virtues of a sterling character? “Such as?” you may ask—perhaps a little incredulously?
Answer: Hey, it’s all open and transparent. You’re welcome to see the curriculum, if you like. Here are some of the “virtues” that children are taught:
• Reliance on God
• Service to Humanity
See “Neighborhood Children’s Classes”:
So maybe your kids are now “junior youth” (10–15 years old). Difficult age, for sure–but a golden opportunity to let kids benefit from good role models they can look up to—the upstanding and outstanding mentors (“animators”) of junior youth activities, many of whom are youth (Baha’i and friends of the Faith alike).
Baha’is have no indoctrination and no clergy–just good “junior youth animators,” who help build a strong foundation for your kids’ future, through a solid moral education that “empowers” these precious young people to make the right choices in life, to stay out of trouble, and to progress along the path to their future success and happiness.
Your kids will get a lot out of it. So will you. So will society.
Now let’s talk about “devotional gatherings.” These small groups “kindle the stirrings of the spirit and ignite the flame of service.” (Note: No offering plates! You will never be asked for money—only Baha’is can contribute to the Baha’i fund, and even that is done voluntarily and quietly.) Devotional gatherings simply happen when friends and neighbors, like you, come together to pray and meditate, using the writings of all Faiths, in this warm and welcoming worship experience.
When these groups multiply in enough neighborhoods in a given locality, they will eventually magnify. How? By becoming local Baha’i Houses of Worship, open to people of all Faiths and no faith.
Plans are now underway to establish local Baha’i Houses of Worship in five regions of the world:
• Matunda Soy, Kenya
• Norte del Cauca, Colombia
• Bihar Sharif, India
• Battambang, Cambodia
• Tanna, Vanuatu
Devotional gatherings become the “embryos” of local Baha’i Houses of Worship. Think about it: To build a local house of worship that welcomes everyone, don’t you need to have enough people who want such a gathering place, who will help plan, organize and build a universal place of worship?
All this can’t be done unless the local community becomes large enough, and unified enough. Baha’is love building unity in their communities. That’s why “home visits” help the local Baha’i community to feel like “home, sweet home” to everyone.
Home visits offer a powerful antidote to urban and suburban isolation, where the prevailing definition of a “good neighbor” is all-too-often a local resident who “minds his/her own business,” with the exception of a neighborly smile and a wave once in a while.
Home visits open the doors to fostering good neighbors once again, like in the good old days. The purpose of these visits? Baha’is understand that visiting one another’s homes weaves bonds of love and union.
Want to learn more? You can go to a Baha’i “fireside.” Baha’i firesides–informal gatherings in homes, meeting places or Baha’i centers—simply introduce friends to the teachings of the Baha’i Faith.
How does all this work together? Well, if you teach children virtues; empower junior youth with the ability to make good choices in life; involve older youth in “animating” junior youth; bring adults, youth, junior youth and children together in worship gatherings; orient, educate and equip youth and adults, through study circles, to engage in acts of service—well, that’s what’s profound! It creates true community, at every age, educational and social level.